Silent Close No. 6

Monika Maron, Author, David N. Marinelli, Translator
Monika Maron, Author, David N. Marinelli, Translator Readers International $14.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-930523-94-7
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Hardcover - 184 pages - 978-0-930523-93-0
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This third novel by Maron ( The Defector ), whose books were banned in her native East Germany, is a first-person narrative by an intellectual who is similarly disgusted by the East German regime. Rosalind has opted out of ``thinking in return for money'' to take a position as scribe to Herbert Beerenbaum, an old man who is compiling his memoirs. It turns out, not surprisingly, that he is a functionary of the Party and no innocent. Ultimately, Rosalind is faced with a difficult moral choice when she discovers that Beerenbaum got one of her friends imprisoned (and, it is strongly implied, tortured) 20 years earlier. Maron conveys this tale in a gracefully tangled narrative that cross-cuts between Beerenbaum's funeral and Rosalind's account of her relationship with him and with others in her life. Maron manages as well to intersperse seemingly digressive references to Mozart's Don Giovanni and discussions of the nature of freedom. She has a mordant wit that can express itself in memorable one-liners (``in German, the only thing feminine about freedom is its grammatical gender. . . .'') and in her book's oblique but cunning transitions. Marinelli's translation gets a bit lumpy at times, but on the whole the novel succeeds brilliantly. (May)
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